Friday, 9 April 2021

The Singing Strad: celebrating Julian Lloyd Webber's 70th birthday

Julian Lloyd Webber - The Singing Strad
Julian Lloyd Webber is 70 next week, and to mark the occasion Decca Classics is issuing a celebratory three-disc set, The Singing Strad of Julian's recordings spanning over 20 years of his career, all selected by the cellist himself. This disc includes concertos by Elgar (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Yehudi Menuhin) and Saint-Saens (with the English Chamber Orchestra and Yan Pascal Tortelier), the original version of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations (with Maxim Shostakovich), Shostakovich's Cello Sonata with John McCabe, a special recording of his brother's Pie Jesu along with Julian's own tribute to Jacqueline Du Pré.

All the recordings were made on the Barjansky Stradivarius cello which Lloyd Webber played for more than 30 years. The Barjansky is named after Russian cellist Alexandre Barjansky (1883-1946), who played the instrument during the first half of the 20th century. [Barjansky was the dedicatee of Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo which he performed on this instrument,  and Barjansky also premiered the Delius Concerto on the instrument in Vienna in January 1923.]

In addition to his playing, Julian has also been heavily involved in music education. He formed the Music Education Consortium with James Galway and Evelyn Glennie in 2003 and as a result of successful lobbying by the Consortium, in 2007, the UK government announced an infusion of £332 million for music education. He became chairman of the In Harmony programme which is based on the Venezuelan social programme El Sistema, and went on to chair Sistema England. He was principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire from 2015 to 2020, overseeing the move to the Birmingham City University City Centre Campus and the merger of the Conservatoire with the Birmingham School of Acting, and in September 2017 the Conservatoire was granted Royal status by Queen Elizabeth II. Julian was appointed Emeritus Professor of Performing Arts by Birmingham City University in 2020.

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